Salvation

Sandstorm
The Sand Circle isn't everything the group expects it to be.

Truday, 11 Whitefall, 6934 EY: The group leaves Karna early in the morning to head south to find the Sand Circle. As sunlight wanes, the group encounters a friendly goat herder named Abbas who invites them to stay at his farmstead overnight in exchange for helping him with his chores. Abbas and his wife Ozra feed the group and Abbas regales them with stories from his adventuring days. He gives them a handful of trinkets and potions he has kept as mementos of those days hoping that they will come in handy for the group's future endeavors.

Norday, 12 Whitefall, 6934 EY: Walking through the wilderness of the Bratanan deserts south of the Gypparra mountain range, the group eventually discovers an enormous sandstorm. Althoug initially worried that this natural disaster would move their way, Tomren studies it from afar to see if it is moving. As he discerns that it is remaining still, Haseya knows instinctively that that is where the Sand Circle Grove is hidden.

The group enters into the sandstorm, where they manage for a while, but eventually lose Misae, who collapses and fades from vision. Arnold is swept away by the powerful winds. Haseya desperately tries to keep everyone together by tying rope. Ubah and Taegon both lose consciousness, and Haseya attempts to pull them out of the storm, but eventually gives in to the fury of the storm. Tomren is the only one standing and makes a desperate dash for the eye of the storm. He nearly makes it, but finally loses strength and consciousness.

The group awakens to find they are being cared for by a dwarven druid. A tall, muscular sun elven woman enters the mud hut they are in and introduces herself as Sift il-Abreen, demanding to know what the group is doing in the Sand Circle. The group is confused, as they had been under the impression that the Sand Circle needed help. Sift arrogantly explains that the Sand Circle is composed of only the fittest and finest druids in the world and would never have need to 'call for help.' She offers to let the group meet the archdruid, which Haseya initially declines. Sift responds by calling it the cowardly way, and Haseya gets pissed and agrees to meet the archdruid.

The group is led into the Sand Circle's heart-tree, which is a gargantuan cactus that has been hollowed out and used as a place to house the majority of the druids here. Walking a spiral staircase all the way to the top, they end up in a lounge room occupied by a gnomish woman with wild green hair curled up with an enormous clouded leopard. Sift introduces the group to the gnome, who is named Archdruidess Daphissa Beestinger. Daphissa is just as arrogant and haughty as her subordinates, and quickly puts to rest any notion that the Sand Circle needs help. Sift mentions that perhaps this confusion has to do with "that human druid" who came through a few weeks ago. Daphissa is furious that Sift has spoken out of turn, but is trapped by the group who demand to know what's going on.

Daphissa explains that Moras came through, and he was sent on a trial to prove himself. She refuses to tell the group where they sent him unless they can prove their strength by receiving a venomscar tattoo. Many of the group volunteer for this task, but because Arnold seems the most eager, he is chosen first. Because of his dwarven resilience, Arnold takes the venomscar tattoo without losing consciousness. Daphissa seems angry, but is true to her word, and tells the group that she sent Moras to Karamezra to steal a gyppa egg.

The group set out immediately southward to find Karamezra, making their way through the mountainous terrain of Gypparra. Eventually, it becomes obvious they will not find the city before nightfall, and they set up camp. Tomren has a dream where he meets a talking crow named Lot. 

During Misae's night watch, the ground begins to rumble and quake. Misae moves to be at the ready just as an enormous dune worm burrows through the rock and knocks down Haseya's tent, attempting to eat the woman inside. Another dune worm attacks Tomren in his tent, and a battle ensues with the group exiting the victor.

As the group huddles and patches up their wounds, they are suddenly visited by a half-dozen winged scavengers. These gyppa, vulturefolk, work quickly to hack into the savory meats of the freshly-killed dune worms. They make snarky comments to the group, until their attention is caught when they begin to get asked about Moras. When the group shows sympathy toward the gyppa, agreeing that stealing their eggs is wrong, the gyppa reluctantly agree to show them the way to Karamezra.

Venday, 13 Whitefall, 6934 EY: The group travels through the night and arrives in Karamezra, exhausted. They learn that Karamezra is an entire city carved into a cliff face. Because the gyppa can fly, there are no ropes, ladders, or stairs to scale the cliff. A few consider scaling the cliff face, but Haseya transforms into a crow and flies to the top of the cliff, where it plateaus into a courtyard leading up to a magnificent palace, also carved into a cliffside. There, she finds Moras in a cage, who urgently shoos her away, saying he's thankful help has come but that if it looks like druids are helping him then the gyppa will turn their wrath on the Sand Circle and, while the Sand Circle are "dicks," he doesn't want to see anyone die on his account.

Tomren produces a 24-foot ladder from his robe of useful items and uses it to scale the cliffside city. The rest of the group follows behind him and eventually reach the top, exhausted and breathless. The guards here demand to know what's going on, and with a few quick words from Arnold, the group is granted an audience with Kha Ga Jakadi, leader of Karamezra.

Ga Jakadi proves to be a menacing, vicious, and angry creature who has every intention of eating Moras after several days of suffering. He goes on at length about his hatred for sun elves and the druids, and how their stealing gyppa eggs as sport could lead to the ruination of his very short-lived people. The group shows sympathy for his plight, and Ga Jakadi is surprised. He reluctantly agrees to release Moras if the group will go to a village called Arakoy, the last village to rebuff Ga Jakadi's attempts at unification, and serve as his emissaries to convince them to join his nation. He also knows they have recently captured a king vulture and desires the bird as a mount, and says the group should return with this animal as proof of their successful mission. The group is allowed to stay in the palace that day and evening to recoup and sleep. Arnold has a dream where he meets a rose-colored dragon that calls itself "The Warden."

Taursday, 14 Whitefall, 6934 EY: The group set out in the morning westward to find the village of Arakoy. After nine hours of arduous and perilous travel, the group finds what they think is Arakoy—but they find it in absolute shambles. The buildings are smoldering ruins, and gyppa corpses are strewn about, some burned, some half eaten. As the heroes begin to piece together what happened here, a terrible roar can be heard alongside the beating of wings, and a drakirant—a corrupted orange dragon, a dragon of zeal—lands near them, launching into a pompous tirade before issuing an attack.

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Butterfly
New allies found, and new plans are formed.

Norday, 5 Whitefall, 6934 EY: The day was spent exploring Samsandi. The group converted their gold to electrum, Arnold bought hot weather clothing for the group, and Tomren and Krystof visited the Tomb of Mhal'kazet. 

Venday, 6 Whitefall, 6934 EY: The group left early in the morning, having an altercation with an abusive noble on the outskirts of town who was treating his wood elven slave very poorly. This soured Haseya's mood for the remainder of the journey to Karna. The rest of the day was spent traveling to Jasserah, where the group arrived late in the evening.

Taursday, 7 Whitefall, 6934 EY: After making a quick visit to the Pario Moska, the group left Jasserah to continue their voyage south to Karna. They began to see the temples and crypts in the Valley of the Zultan to the west. Tomren begged for a detour but was shot down.

Oathday, 8 Whitefall, 6934 EY: Travel to Karna continued. During this day, the group passed by the Tomb of the Shining Zultan, and Krystof explained that it housed the remains of an "albino" sun elf who had went mad and was reviled by the sun elves.

Lorday, 9 Whitefall, 6934 EY: More travel to Karna. On this day the group encountered a human apothecary named Godwin Stafford who was relieved to see fellow outlanders. He was desperate to return home to his wife and sick sister, and the group bought enough of his merchandise to pay his way back home.

Arday, 10 Whitefall, 6934 EY: The group arrived in Karna around noon on this day and were immediately taken in by its beauty and the wonders it contained. They bought a horribly translated guide to the city and a map. Their first stop was the Falcon's Perch Inn, where they discovered that Zafar had already purchased rooms for them. They then traveled to the Library of Sjet, and were disappointed to find out that it was only a single, simple tower. They were required to fill out forms that included a waiver of liability, which aroused much suspicion. Finally, they were given small discs that would light up when it was their turn to enter the library.

At this point, the group split up, except for Taegon and Haseya, who explored the city together. Each had their own little mini adventure, described below:

Tomren: Tomren visited the theater district, where he saw the Dancing Djinn, one of the twelve wonders of Karna, and was magically photographed next to it. He was present during the arrival of a foreign dignitary from Realm; an individual of great importance: a member of the Valorous Family. Finally, Tomren received another justicar mission, this time taking him back north to Jasserah.

Taegon: As Taegon traveled with Haseya, he noticed more and more elderly and wealthy sun elves mutter at him, or spit at him, or stare at him with hostility. Eventually, an old elven woman explained to Taegon that he looked like the Shining Zultan. It was revealed that the Shining Zultan was actually an outsider with glowing eyes who was obsessed with accumulating knowledge and eventually went mad. He was entombed with his followers and the knowledge he had accumulated because the sun elves believe it was the knowledge that drove him mad. Taegon learned that the Shining Zultan's name was Taerah ur-Stariiz, and that his long lost grandfather's name—Taeron Stareyes—could not be coincidence.

Arnold: Arnold did indeed have an adventure, but it will be chronicled at a later date.

Haseya: Seething over Misae sneaking off without saying anything, Haseya explored the city with Taegon. Her first encounter was with a wealthy sun elven nobleman and his spoiled son who wanted his father to purchase Ahiga. Haseya politely declined, even when the man offered 5,000 gold pieces for the fox. At this point the man became verbally hostile, shouting epithets and throwing up rude gestures. Haseya held her temper, but as the merchant walked away, another elf approached, this one clad in orange robes and with a bald head. He said he was called Razeer al-Wahl, and that he was a monk of the Hungry Flame. Razeer claimed to be able to see Haseya's inner rage, and that Haseya had wanted to kill the man. Haseya denied the claim, but Razeer insisted upon it. He told Haseya that she was a perfect candidate for his order, and suggested that she seek out the Monastery of the Hungry Flame, south of the Scorpion Wastes.

Later, Haseya and Taegon walked by an alleyway where a handful of urchins were kicking a vulture. Haseya scared the children away, and the vulture, to her surprise, spoke: "Sand Circle. Trouble. Send help." Taegon healed the bird and it flew away, but Haseya knew that going to the Sand Circle was a priority.

Misae: Misae snuck away from the rest of the group, tired of being treated as a child that needed to be monitored at all times. She visited the market district, enjoying the Verdant Square. When she encountered an ice cream vendor, she was quick to try to purchase some—but a tall, handsome sun elven man interrupted, insisting that he pay for her instead. The man introduced himself as Eskandar za-Tavana, and proved to be quite charming. He commented on Misae's beauty, and suggested they get tea sometime. Misae agreed to the date, but before further plans could be made, Eskandar was called away by a magical message from his employer—the Lord of Servitude, who oversees the slave trade in Karna.

That evening, Misae was returning to the Falcon's Perch when she was approached by a man who looked at her as a commodity. He offered 5000 electrum for her and asked who her master was. Misae was quickly getting angry and worried when a sun elven woman swooped in, smacking her across the face and shouting at her for wandering off. The elven man identified this new woman as "Kamaria," and the woman quickly ushered Misae away.

Kamaria apologized for hitting Misae and asked her if she was with "Ubah, Arnold, Tomren and Taegon." Confused, Misae said yes. Kamaria then said she had people she needed to introduce Misae to, and led her away.

Ubah: Ubah was taken in by the moskas of the Parandur. He found himself in a moska devoted to Reti, the ostrich-god of healing and protection. There, he asked many questions of the priests, who eventually suggested to Ubah that he visit Aya Jasheed al-Atar in Khariib.

When the group assembled in the evening, they were worried to discover that Arnold and Misae had not made it back to the inn, and Zafar had yet to check in. The proprietor of the inn informed the group that they had been left a note. This note gave instructions on how to find a secret hideaway where an anonymous individual said they wished to discuss a business proposal, and not to wait for their friends.

The group apprehensively followed the instructions, which led them to the Mouse and Oyster Pub. Here, they found a secret staircase that led underground. What they discovered was indeed a secret hideout—the secret headquarters of the Butterfly, a resistance movement seeking revolution in Bratana.

Immediately, the group recognized Beasts for Peace playing on the stage here, and that the band was accompanied by Arnold. Dancing on one of the tables was Misae and a new friend she and Arnold had made—the flower girl from Samsandi, whose name was Narida sil-Ghaznavi.

Zafar came up to the group and apologized profusely for not contacting them sooner. He dodged questions about himself to introduce the group to the leaders of the Butterfly: Kamara sha-Aridus, and Mitra sha-Najafi. Mitra was an older woman who had a sharp tongue and a clever wit, while Kamaria was very focused and business-oriented. Kamaria explained that the group were known in Karna and considered heroes by the Butterfly because of their exploits in Molentius and the destruction of the Brotherhood of Chains. This act caused a destabilization in the slave trade that the Butterfly hopes to capitalize on to begin their revolution in earnest. The group agreed to help the Butterfly with their movement, and Kamaria explained that they weren't on a strict time table—that remaining unpredictable in their timing was actually an advantage—and that the sands of Bratana would test each and every member of the party in some way and that hopefully these tests would lead the group to allies that would aid the Butterfly.

Misae tried to mend things with Haseya, but Haseya was still furious at her friend. Narida tried to get Misae to sneak out for more fun, but Misae declined, explaining that she couldn't risk Haseya becoming more angry.

Haseya was the first to meet Theletos, a bizarre creature made mostly of crystal but with four spindly arms that separated into eight total hands. The creature communicated via envisaging, giving Haseya mental imagery such as a dove in flight, a child holding out a flower, and a purring kitten. Despite the creature's horrifically odd appearance, its innocent nature endeared it to Haseya. Kamaria approached and explained that the creature just showed up one day, but it had been giving images of breaking chains and freeing slaves, so she thinks it wants to help and has allowed it to remain.

Arnold tried to use the rod of wonder during Haseya and Misae's heart-to-heart speech, but Narida appeared and took the rod away from Arnold, bopping him on the head with it and tucking it away between her breasts. Arnold was stunned when the rod did not return to him as it normally did.

Tomren had a reunion with Emanaya, the felice warlock who helped the group escape initial captivity in the Valley of Chains. It was mixed emotions for Tomren, who was wary of Emanaya's warlock nature but enjoyed her personality. Emanaya explained that she was hear to help the revolution, because she believed in freedom. After a back and forth about using magic "to kill," Emanaya suggested a walk. The two walked the hallways of the Butterfly's underground hideout until they were alone. Emanaya suggested that Tomren had a darkness inside of him and that she could feel it. Tomren continually said he didn't know what she was talking about until Emanaya moved her hand from Tomren's chest to his face, causing his skin to become pallid and his cheekbones to sink in. Tomren quickly pushed her hand away, returning life to his face. Emanaya made the suggestion that Tomren could be rid of this "darkness" if he took a patron. Tomren flatly denied, saying he would not be thrall to another power. Emanaya argued that he was already a thrall—a thrall to the Towers, a thrall to the Empire, and a thrall to death—and then walked away, leaving Tomren to stew in anger and frustration.

With a large handful of missions and leads to pursue, the group agreed that the top priority was helping the Sand Circle druids, who sounded as if they were in trouble. Haseya wanted to leave immediately, but was talked into resting for the night by a concerned Zafar. Taegon, Haseya, and Misae returned to the Falcon's Perch Inn, and the group rested after a very long day.

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Demons in the Night
Things get heated on the Emerald Serpent

Arday, 27 Deadtree, 6934 EY:  The group decides to tackle Tomren's justicar bounty to bring in Ka'theres Moonstalker. Zafar accompanies the group on this mission. Ka'theres ends up being a phoenix-soul sorcerer who is an accomplished spellcaster and nearly kills the party, but Zafar is able to render him unconscious, and Tomren claims his bounty. After the fight, Ubah makes it clear to Tomren that he will no longer accompany him on justicar missions. Tomren, unwilling to force anyone to help him, says he understands.

Truday, 28 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group meets with Ara Jakata, the captain of the Emerald Serpent, who has agreed to ferry the crew across the Angan ocean for a reasonable fee. The ship sets sail that day, and the adventure on the seas begins.

Norday, 29 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The ship continues sailing southward. The group attracts the attention of an immense dragon turtle, the guardians of the shores of Sarenul, who swims alongside the ship for several tense hours before losing interest and drifting back to the Sarenulian shore.

Venday, 30 Deadtree, 6934 EY: An uneventful but pleasant day of travel. Misae gets her tan on.

Taursday, 31 Deadtree, 6934 EY: Another uneventful but pleasant day, but in the evening, the group is ambushed by a gang of five bearded devils and a bone devil who have been sent by Ruzazel to claim Jadeflame from Ubah. Ubah resists the demons and fights them, but is severely injured in the encounter. The devils say this was a warning and that next time Ubah had better be prepared to surrender his weapon. Haseya kills a bearded devil by herself, but nearly dies in the process. Zafar turns on Ubah, infuriated that Haseya, who has become a close friend to Zafar, nearly died, when Ubah only a few days ago expressed a certain amount of cowardice in helping his friends with their troubles. Zafar and Ubah have a brief but fiery argument before Zafar turns his attention to healing Haseya. Misae stays up all night watching over her friend, making sure she recovers.

Oathday, 1 Whitefall, 6934 EY: A day of recovery and awkward silence amongst the group. Haseya receives a letter. Otherwise, an uneventful day of sailing and travel.

Lorday, 2 Whitefall, 6934 EY: A crystalline dragon is spotted portside of the ship and Ara Jakata calls everyone up to see it. He explains the goldrak, or crystalline dragons, are wardens of the oceans and open waters. The group admires the dragon for some time, until a megalodon frightens the dragon out of the water. The dragon attempts to escape, but the attempt is futile; the massive shark catches the dragon out of the air, dragging it underwater for a meal.

Arday, 3 Whitefall, 6934 EY: An uneventful day of sailing to Bratana; the weather becomes more arid.

Truday, 4 Whitefall, 6934 EY: Land is spotted around 1 in the afternoon. By three, the ship has landed safely in Samsandi, gateway to Bratana. Zafar explains that he is leaving the group to ride ahead to Karna to assess the situation and hopefully grease some wheels. The group explores Samsandi, looking for supplies or sight seeing. Arnold encounters a beautiful flower girl and buys out her entire stock; in exchange, he receives a kiss, and a curious memento: an amethyst pin in the shape of a butterfly.

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Lost in Port Siraston
The ninth largest city in Pryme is kind of a shit hole...

Truday, 21 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group made a quick exit out of Eruk early in the morning. They learned that a new passenger had joined the Mistress—a hunter named Midolf Parimir. Although initially suspicious of this new passenger, it quickly became apparent that Midolf was what he seemed. The group made it to Eruk that day, and for the first time saw the Dragonsguard, the giant wall that separates Sarenul from the rest of the Great Continent.

Norday, 22 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group spent a pleasant day exploring Eruk. Haseya and Misae encountered a troop of heibai riders, and Tomren bought a woven relic. The entire group explored an art museum that held many artifacts of the conflict between Realm and Sarenul. That evening, pretty much everyone but Zafar, Ubah and Haseya shacked up with a random stranger.

Venday, 23 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group spent the day traveling to Matutu. During this time, Taegon confronted Arnold about killing the woman back in Zelgaruk. Arnold attempted to defend himself, explaining it was an accident and that he felt awful about it. He tried to lighten the mood by using the rod of wonder, but ended up getting the group stuck in a pit of butter. They arrived in Matutu that evening and spent the night there.

Taursday, 24 Deadtree, 6934 EY: In the morning, Misae and Tomren paid to scrawl a message on the Dragonsguard, and then the group continued onward to Port Siraston. The journey was mostly uneventful; Misae flirted with the wall guards, and Tomren spoke to Krystof about magic and his time as a collector for the Yellow Tower.

Oathsday, 25 Deadtree, 6934 EY: Another relatively uneventful day of travel on the way to Port Siraston. Discussion was had with Zafar about his horse, which caused him to become very guarded and attempted to divert attention from himself. Tomren received another assignment to bring in a sorcerer named Ka'theres Moonstalker.

Lorday, 26 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group finally arrived in Port Siraston. When Zafar identified himself as "Zafar za-Farahani" to the gate guard, he was pulled aside. Zafar instructed the group to go on without him and he would find them; Krystof offered to stay with Zafar and check the horses and the wagon. The group was immediately approached by three men: Vitus Armuski, a brusque dwarf who offered to be the city guide at a high price; Connelly Faraday, a jittery young human man who offered a much lower price but seemed inexperienced; and Swift Wind, an articulate and polite wood elf who appealed to Haseya and Misae, offering his services for a reasonable fee. After some discussion, the group agreed to go with Swift Wind.

Quickly, it became apparent that Swift Wind was actually a bandit, and lured the group into an ambush in Corso, a corvo neighborhood known for its crime and brutality. The group made quick work of Swift Wind's minions, but the wood elf himself got away, much to the anger of the group, particularly Misae, who felt personally betrayed.

The group was now hopelessly lost in Port Siraston. Haseya flew up but the enormous city nearly made her nauseous. She was able to determine that the docks were to the south before she retreated back to land. The group wandered for a while, ending up in the Guild District. Here, they encountered a strange shop called the Rainbow Rat. Tomren begged for them to go in, where they discovered it was a shop where one could buy a dyed and taxidermied giant rat, put into a pose, and dressed in clothing of the buyer's choice. Tomren purchased a rat dyed black in a dancing pose dressed as a wizard. Haseya was weirded out by this. Misae bought a tiny hat to put on Haseya when she was in hawk form, much to Haseya's dismay.

The group eventually found their way to the docks but were unable to find an inn. An elderly felice woman agreed to help give them directions if they patronized her, as she was a fortune teller. The group agreed and had their fortunes read, then the woman pointed them to the White Hart Inn—one of the only reputable establishments in Port Siraston. There, the group waited for the arrival of Zafar and Krystof so they could plan their next move.

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The Mysterious Murder of Miss Julie Johnson
I still can't believe you did that.

A very detailed description of these days was written but then lost during a power outage, so this update will be uncharacteristically brief.

Venday, 16 Deadtree, 6934 EY: Group meets with Zafar, told to speak with Krystof Kraus. Zafar agrees to accompany group to Bratana. Krystof met and allowed to come with group to Bratana despite reservations about his 14-year-old granddaughter being left alone to run his shop.

Taursday, 17 Deadtree, 6934 EY: Primarily downtime waiting for Manora to return. Haseya and Misae write messages home. Haseya dreams of a giant crystal that warns her of "the Eye."

Oathday, 18 Deadtree, 6934 EY: Manora arrives successful from her mission. A majority of the Dunezar conflicts are resolved, at least temporarily.

Lorday, 19 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group aheads out with Zafar and Krystof in tow aboard Farlock's barge. They meet another passenger, Ileena Bayle, who is traveling to Sarenul to consult with oracles to determine where her missing son has gone.

Arday, 20 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The barge makes a pit stop in the city of Zelgaruk to sell some cargo and bring on more cargo. Haseya, Misae and Arnold, curious about all of the missing children, goes to the Imperial outpost to find documentation. Arnold fucking kills an innocent woman. Misae and Arnold are imprisoned, and Tomren has to use his authority as a justicar while Haseya used her shapeshifting skills as a druid to get them freed. The group returns to the Indigo Blade Inn, where they rest and (hopefully) plan a quick escape in the morning. Misae has a dream about a donkey who tells her she isn't special but he wants to help make her special and forge her own destiny.

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Jadeflame
The beginning of something big.

Lorday, 12 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The heroes continued their exploration of Opha'copa, the Jade Ziggurat. Their encounter with the basilisk was deadly and nearly defeated the team; however, the two who were turned to stone reverted back to normal upon the realization and learning that this was a lesser basilisk.

The group also encountered the undead remains of a naga, which guarded the crypts of Opha'copa. After taking out the guardian, Misae found a snakeskin cloak which she later identified as a cloak of protection.

The group then found the final gem needed to open the door, the Ruby of Shim, but had to fight a black pudding in order to claim it. After this combat, the group agreed to bar the door to the room they were in and risk spending a night in the ziggurat.

Although the group was not attacked, they were greeted by a visitor in the night; something attempted to get inside the room, but could not get through the barred door. This confirmed the groups' suspicion that something knew they were there.

Arday, 13 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The heroes took the four gems to the large door and inserted them into the slots that fit the puzzle. A mechanism ground the four gems into dust and shards; when the heroes picked up the shards, they discovered they had become infused with the Weave, and were Woven Relics now. 

Upon entering the room, they found a massive chamber that housed a single object; an artifact crafted of gold that looked like an ornate sword hilt without a blade. It hovered in the air above an altar, and light shown down on it from a window above.

Just then, the group was ambushed by the troll that they had been hunting. The troll grabbed the hilt and attempted to wield it, but the weapon reacted to Ubah's presence, and a jade-colored flame erupted from the hilt. The troll, terrified of fire, threw the weapon aside, and charged into battle with just its claws.

Having prepared for this fight, the group made very short work of the troll. Arnold summoned a fire elemental and Taegon scored a very fortunate, gruesome, and critical hit on the troll. Ubah cautiously approached the weapon that seemed to call to him, and Tomren issued a word of warning, but it was too late: the hilt flew to Ubah's hand, and the flame blade burst forth. This summoned an intense booming sound that knocked everyone in the room prone except for Ubah. An enormous column of brilliant green light issued out of the sword and into the sky. Tomren also saw a vision of a man he thought he recognized. And then the ziggurat began trembling and collapsing.

The group made a desperate exit out of the ziggurat, but were stopped in the entry hallway by the guardian of the ziggurat: an opha named Tenoss. The group valiantly fought against Tenoss while the ziggurat threatened to consume them in collapse. They ducked and doged through falling debris and slew the serpentine creature. They made their daring escape just in time, as Opha'Copa exploded behind them. The debris knocked several members of the party unconscious, but all had survived. The enormous pillar of green light still existed, likely visible for miles around. Upon further recollection, Tomren knew the man's name to be Aethyr Phane, and that he had been one of the founders of the Towers of Ten. He also read the words inscribed upon Jadeflame, and knew them to be the words of one of the Towers, but could not recall which. Finally, each heard a voice in their head tell them the same message: It begins. Misae, however, did not hear a voice.

Truday, 14 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group spent this day traveling back to Dunezar.

Norday, 15 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group returns to Dunezar triumphant. They immediately travel to the Hunter's Take lodge to claim their money. Leodolf apologetically explained that he cannot issue payment because Floriano had yet to deliver the money as promised.

The group decided to seek Floriano out, but he beat him to the punch; the door to Leodolf's office open, and Floriano strode in with two of his lackeys. Floriano explained that he felt insulted by the group's unwillingness to help him immediately, and said he was only willing to pay half of what he agreed upon. Leodolf, a fan of contracts and rules, warned Floriano that that was not how the rules worked. Floriano then responded with a threat of violence. Leodolf, quicker than his appearance would suggest, produced two flintlock pistols and, with two shots, killed Floriano's men. Floriano produced a dagger, but Leodolf's blunderbuss was already in his hands; he shot over Tomren's shoulder, and the spray of shot hit Floriano's arm, causing him to drop his knife. Leodolf lit a cigar with one of the still-smoking pistol barrels and walked over to Floriano. He used Floriano's knife to carve out the shot, and then used the cigar to cauterize his wounds. He searched Floriano's person and found a bag of gold—an amount equal to the agreed-upon amount. Leodolf told Floriano he knew he would bring the full amount, because Floriano is a coward. He then demanded that Floriano leave, which he did. He turned the money over to the group, who were relieved to no longer have to worry about Floriano, at least for now.

Ruminating on what their next move should be, Tomren identified Jadeflame as an incredibly unique and powerful artifact that deserved further research. He realized then that, after all business had been resolved in Dunezar, the group had one place they needed to go for answers: the Library of Sjet in the country of Bratana, far to the south.

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The Jade Ziggurat
Turns out, opha just love traps.

Lorday, 12 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The heroes spent this day exploring the inside of Opha'copa, the Jade Ziggurat. It did not take long for them to learn that the ancient building was a death trap, and nearly every room or corridor held a deadly trap to deter invaders. They agreed to put Misae in the front to utilize her trap finding abilities.

After a number of traps triggered, some traps disarmed, and a handful of fights against orogs and barbarian slaves, as well as an entire fight circumvented by Haseya speaking to some angry venomous serpents, the group found an enormous door with an intricate and gruesome carving. The door was emblazoned with opha hieroglyphics. Arnold cast comprehend languages to decipher the script, which read:

" The Lady of Torture desires your tears;
The Lord of Slaves demands your blood.
The Lady of Death wants a drop of venom,
The God of War demands the royal gem."

After experimenting with a couple of different ideas, the group abandoned this puzzle to continue exploring the dungeon. After a time, they discovered a giant diamond. Although it held no magic, they began to question if this diamond's purpose was tied to the door. As they continued exploring the dungeon, they discovered a sapphire and an emerald of equal size. During this time, they also encountered a pair of fire snakes that they battled, Misae acquired an elaborate and deadly magical bow, and the group circumvented an encounter with pyfron slaves by trapping them inside their quarters.

The group now approaches what appears to be the entrance to some sort of shrine. Before they can open the door, however, a reptilian hiss issues forth from behind them, and they find themselves cornered by a dangerous new foe: a basilisk.

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A New Path
Old enemies are taken care of and new allies are found.

Norday, 8 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group rushed with all urgency to Harubel where they made their way to the Croc-Arena. After discussing various plans on how to get underneath the arena, eventually they found stairs leading below. This led them "behind the scenes," where they were led to the shower and locker rooms by the writhing green worm that Tomren kept from the Father of Worm's lair. In the locker room, they discovered Grok "the Croc" Grokson. Arnold used his way with words to convince Grok that a great evil was threatening the arena, and Grok agreed to join them.

After stumbling for a time to find the secret entrance, Arnold's stonecunning picked up that part of the bas relief on the wall was recent: a carving of a worm with a lamprey-like mouth lined with rows of teeth. The worm was twitching spastically at this point, so Tomren made the decision to let it out. It quickly crawled into the carving's "mouth," unlocking a way to a secret chamber.

After dispatching his carrion crawler minions, the heroes came face-to-face with the Father of Worms, who was in the middle of a ritual to resurrect the ulgurstasta. The warlock had tied the abducted travelers to the walls around this room and had been gradually letting their blood to flow into the center of the chamber where the ulgurstasta remained. Thanks to some very powerful blows by Grok's fists and the justicar expertise of Tomren, the group made fairly quick work of the Father of Worms and his minion, a phase spider named Voidwidow.

The heroes had discovered also that one of the abducted individuals was Leyne, so as soon as the battle was over, Grok and Haseya rushed to Leyne's side, healing him and carrying him out. They quickly reunited with Jorr, who was beside himself with worry and thanked the heroes endlessly.

When the heroes returned to the Blackened Bones Inn to celebrate, Tomren and Haseya each had letters waiting for them. Although they chose to keep the contents of these letters to themselves, Haseya was provided with enough gold to provide the menagerie everything it needed. She gave the coin to them, and they were astonished, speechless, and beyond thankful. Additionally, Tomren received his promotion to Justicar-Strider, meaning he could now leave Molentius whenever he wished.

Venday, 9 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group awoke and found Farlock waiting in the harbor district. He was happy to let his old friends onto his barge to travel back downriver. Because they were his only passengers, he allowed Princess to surface and the group learned that she is something of a softie, and even got to pet and feed the plesiosaur. The trip downriver took the day, which was pleasant and uneventful.

Taursday, 10 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group arrived back in Dunezar early in the morning. Herod Elwald, the guardsman, was waiting for them at the docks, saying that Zafar had posted him there until their return. It seemed that there had been a break-in at the Hunter's Take guildhall, and although the burglar was apprehended, Haseya was somehow implicated in the whole mess.

Zafar escorted the group to the Jungle Watch Keep and into the stockades, where Haseya found her old friend and compatriot, Misae, who had already unlocked her cell door with a stowed away lockpick. Zafar was baffled and made uncomfortable by this new acquisition, and told Haseya to keep an eye on her. Relieved to be reunited with her old friend, Haseya introduced Misae to the group. The wood elf immediately made an impression by being confrontational with Tomren due to his race and affiliation with the Towers of Ten.

On their way to the Hunter's Take guild hall, Haseya was spotted by the farmers who were left in charge of the terror wings. It turned out that the winged reptiles had fallen ill, and the workload of keeping the barn clean was too much for the farmers, and their living space had become disgusting. Haseya spoke with the terror wings and learned they were dying from the lack of a vital nutrient only found in Tongo thistle, which grew in the high peaks of the Tongo mountains. As Haseya was making plans to find this thistle, Manora showed up to see Arnold. Hearing about this thistle, Manora offered her assistance to go find the thistle, along with Winket, Herod, Adlyth, and Archie. The heroes then spent six hours scrubbing every inch of the barn free of terror wing droppings, save for Taegon, who ventured back to Zafar to declare these conditions unacceptable. Zafar had been unaware and agreed with Taegon, and also agreed to speak to Floriano.

This led to Zafar coming to the group in the middle of their cleaning to let them know Floriano refused to speak about a new home for the terror wings to Zafar and instead insisted upon an audience with the heroes. The group acquiesced and traveled to Floriano's mansion.

Floriano was, as always, arrogant and confrontational without being outright hostile or impolite. He made it clear he felt insulted that his contract had been put on "the back burner" and if the group could "afford to turn up their noses at good coin then they could pay for their birdcage themselves." Misae, new to both Molentius and Dunezar, proceeded to say a deluge of incredibly unkind things to Floriano, who handled it calmly, but politely asked one of his guards to add Misae's name to "the list."

The group retired to the Hunter's Take guildhall to rest and prepare to begin their troll hunt the following morning.

Oathday, 11 Deadtree, 6934 EY: In the early hours of the morning, Taegon and Misae had a conversation about many things, particularly their connection as fellow elves, Taegon's origins, missing being in a proper forest, and, mostly, how Misae conducts herself around others. Taegon tried to make it clear that they could have powerful enemies, and even if these enemies were despised, the group had to be careful about how they conducted themselves around these entities. Misae apologized for her brashness and expressed hope that she could make a better second impression.

Once the rest of the group had awoken, they set out and headed west into the jungle, following a trail Ubah had picked up that seemed to belong to a troll. With Leodolf's wisdom in their minds, the group began looking for some manner of ruin.

Along the way, the group stumbled into a wizard of the Black Tower who stood on a giant, undead beetle. The wizard was being attacked by a pyfron warband. The group easily dispatched the pyfron, and the wizard introduced himself as Sam Nibley. While some thought his beetle, a husk strider named "Mister Peeper" was neat, others thought it was an abomination, and others didn't care and wanted to focus on the mission.

The group traveled for a few more hours before making camp that night.

Lorday, 12 Deadtree, 6934 EY: Less than an hour into their travel, the group stumbled upon what appeared to be an intact and undiscovered ophan ruin. The tracks of the troll led directly to this ziggurat, and so the group followed in. Despite being very careful, they sprung a trap that destroyed the way in to the ziggurat, which nearly also killed Haseya. Now in what seems to be a central chamber dominated by a giant green statue, the group prepares itself for the dangers of Opha'Copa, the Jade Ziggurat.

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Archdruid
A legend appears.

8 Deadtree 6934 EY: Arnold awoke in a cell, having spent the night in the stockades. Unsure of his fate, he had passed the time annoying the jailor with his harmonica. Eventually, a mysterious benefactor entered and paid Arnold's hefty fee of 5,000 gp. When Arnold was let out, he learned his benefactor was none other than Cal Cabboway and the Beasts for Peace. The money used to bail Arnold rendered B4P mostly broke, but they handwaved Arnold's concerns, claiming they were done with Molentius and ready to travel south to Dalorene to make it big.

Arnold met up with the gang at the Blackened Bones inn and caught up on the goings-on. Tomren let slip about Ubah's encounter with Ruzazel, but the team took it in stride, understanding that it was just an additional threat to be aware of.

The team plus Moras traveled to the menagerie to meet the Black Circle druid, who turned out to be a hard-headed halfron woman named Malory Fairgold. Malory was reticent to help the group, but when it was made known that contact with the Black Circle had been entirely cut off, she grew concerned enough to agree to accompany the group to the Black Circle territories.

The trek was uneventful and unpleasant. Moras had a conversation with Haseya about how they became druids. He then asked her about Ahiga and his health, and then entered a heated debate with Ahiga about which parts of a chicken are the tastiest.

As the group traveled westward, the bogs and swamps gave way to dryer marshes interspersed with islands covered in tall savannah grass. This marshland marked the transitional lands between Molentius and Perilar. The soaring mesas and plateaus of the thragg'ar lands could be seen from this location.

It was here the group discovered the Black Circle refuge, and that it had seemingly been completely abandoned. The Black Circle lived in huts of straw and mud, and as the group explored the Circle, they were suddenly attacked by human and ursith zombies. After a long battle with the particularly resilient ursith druids, Moras made an emergency trip to the Throgswald via a tree stride scroll and an old thorn acacia tree.

When Moras returned, he was accompanied by Archdruid Thro'gok of Clan Ulgar, more colloquially known as Throg, a living legend and arguably the most powerful druid in all of Pryme. Throg was accompanied by his animal companion, a beast of legend, the lioness Lya. Throg was shaken by the state of the Black Circle. He commanded Malory to take the reigns and become the new leader, but Malory declined, citing her work at the menagerie as her excuse, and that she would make a poor leader in general. This irritated Throg, who sent Moras to return to the Throgswald and return with Lyra Sprig and 2000 gold pieces.

While Moras was gone, Throg exchanged much wisdom with the group. He admitted that he knew Haseya's parents, particularly Sani, her father, and that Sani had been instrumental in regrowing the Throgswald. He spoke to Taegon about his question and that the soul of the planet had only told Throg that Taegon must look "beyond the storm." Throg was also impressed by Lya's apparent affection and subservience toward Taegon, and mentioned it may be a clue to his answer.

Regarding Haseya's peoples' sickness, Throg could only say that such maladies are common in Ethovan folklore where fae are involved; the fae enjoy curses of sterility to harm shepherds and farmers. He admitted it wasn't much help, but to remember that kernels of truth exist within folk tales.

Throg had rather harsh words for Tomren, as Throg has little patience for the undead or necromancers. Tomren began to defend himself, but Throg was quick to make it apparent that he was not in the mood to bandy words with a justicar, and Tomren wisely accepted that he should pick his battles and remained silent.

Throg warned the party that the Towers were the lapdogs of the Empire of Realm, and the Empire of Realm had zero interest in anything other than the wellbeing of the Empire itself. When Haseya defended her friend, Throg pointed to the undead corpses of the ursith which had unsettled the ursith druid, and commented that, in time, Tomren would be capable of creating such creatures, and would likely not hesitate in doing so, and urged Haseya to meditate on that information.

Moras returned with Lyra Sprig, a vibrant but aging beauty of a human druid, and a satchel with the requested money. Throg explained the money was for Moras that he might continue his mission, and then asked Lyra to take command at the Black Circle. Lyra was ready for this, and accepted. Malory and Moras offered to stay and help rebuild as they could, and Throg, using his instincts and heightened senses, confirmed Haseya's suspicions of an unnatural cause for this atrocity. Throg said to travel east of Harubel, and to follow the insects.

The group did as Throg suggested and were eventually assailed by a group of giant maggots and flies. After a repulsive battle in which Taegon found himself overwhelmed by the overgrown vermin, the group was victorious. Haseya, in tiger form, heard a droning from afar, and made a beeline to a small hold in the ground mostly obscured by moss. This hole led into a cavern system. After a short rest, the group ventured in.

Cutting straight to the heart of the cavern and circumventing most of its horrible denizens, the group found what appeared to be a bedroom that was unoccupied. They ransacked the room of its valuables, which included a strange green worm held suspended in formaldehyde yet still twitching with life, or perhaps unlife.

Records recovered by Tomren detailed the ascent of a man originally named Kai Johannson who, after being diagnosed with a wasting disease, traveled to Molentius for answers. Dissatisfied with the healing the druids provided, Kai sought more immediate answers. This attracted the attention of Shuddemal, an outer plane entity. Kai took Shuddemal as his patron which caused some manner of physical transformation in him. He then returned to the Black Circle and killed them all for being inefficient and not providing Kai with the answers he needed.

The notes then described that Shuddemal had commanded Kai, now calling himself the Father of Worms, to awaken one of Shuddemal's ancient servants: a horror entity known as an ulgurstasta that slept in a crypt beneath the Great Croc-Arena. This awakening would kill everyone in the arena, reviving them as an undead army that the Father of Worms could use to usher in a new age of horror and despair. Panic overcame the group as they realized this ritual was happening tonight, at the apex of the festivities of Crocomania, which was due to begin in mere hours. Without further hesitation, the group fled back to Harubel, hoping they could make it in time.

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Crocomania XXXVII
Welcome to Harubel -- City of the Croc Arena!

6 Deadtree 6934 EY: After wrapping up some loose ends in town, including commissioning a mythril odachi be made for Taegon by the ardo smiths, the group finally set forth northward to Harubel. They bought passage aboard a barge called the Mistress which was ran by a plucky halfron named Nichol Farlock. Aboard the ship, the group met Jorr Keber, a reserved farmer from Dunezar, and his energetic eight-year-old son, Leyne Keber. The group immediately took to Leyne, despite Jorr's reservations toward his son bothering a group of potentially dangerous strangers.

Upon questioning how Farlock's boat moves upriver, he refused to give an answer. Curiosity got the better of Haseya, and she transformed into a giant toad and dove into the water, where she was immediately attacked by Princess, Farlock's friend and means of conveyance, a great pleisiosaur. Although he was less than thrilled about having his secret revealed, Farlock remained friendly toward the group.

That evening, Ubah was visited by an entity in a dream. The entity came to him in the guise of Floriano Stricklen, but introduced himself as Ruzazel, or 'Rue,' for short. Ruzazel was accompanied by two succubi, and the apparent demon explained to Ubah that Ubah had stolen something from him. Normally Ruzazel wouldn't seek retribution against someone who killed one of his pact-wielders, but when Ruzazel looked into Ubah's past, present and future, he liked what he saw, and he wanted in. Ruzazel offered Ubah a contract for infernal powers, but Ubah declined. This infuriated Ruzazel, and he ended the conversation with a vague threat—"You and me ain't finished."

7 Deadtree 6934 EY: Much to Leyne's thorough excitement, the group arrived in Harubel on this day. Although its population is less than half of Dunezar's, Harubel exuded a sense of vibrance and excitement. There was an electricity throughout the city, and it radiated from its central hub—the Great Croc Arena. Arnold was quick to convince Taegon to visit the Croc-Arena, while Ubah and Tomren went to the Tower District to find the Tracer that could analyze Ubah's potential. Haseya went to the Lawn, a menagerie of animals kept in captivity in the city.

Arnold and Taegon were quick to find out that tickets for Crocomania had been sold out. While discussing what to do next, they were approached by an old friend and a familiar face—Moras Graymoon. Moras was thrilled to see his old friends, and quickly launched into an adoring rant about croc wrestling. It seemed Moras had procured a fistful of tickets by gambling on previous croc wrestling matches, and while he was going to sell them, he instead was more than happy to give them to his friends.

Meanwhile, Haseya was investigating the menagerie, and rapidly disliked what she saw. Although the animals seemed well-kept and did not live in squalor, their enclosures left much to be desired, and a few of the animals were desperate for companionship. She spoke with the animals and learned much of their histories, their complaints and their compliments. She spoke with the pair of keepers who operated the menagerie who turned out to be earnest and passionate people but who were severely underfunded as most of Harubel's money went to the Croc-Arena. Haseya seemed to contemplate donating, but after discovering that renovations would exceed thousands of gold, put the idea on the backburner.

Ubah and Tomren met with the Tracer who lived in the wizard tower in the Tower District, an eccentric-looking wood elf named Star Eyes. Star Eyes didn't hesitate in examining Ubah's mind for magic potential. What he found there befuddled him. Ubah's magical potential was the equivalent of Gage Truthseeker's, one of the greatest wizards of the age. Although it would require years of training to achieve even a portion of Gage's ability, the potential was there. Star Eyes urged Ubah to join the Towers immediately, warning that it would take years to learn the ways of wizardry. Ubah asked if he could just be taught by Tomren, but Star Eyes insisted that it was expressly forbidden by the Towers. Ubah declined the offer, explaining he had much to do and couldn't give away years of his life to the Towers. Star Eyes offered one last test which revealed that Ubah's special affinity was with the orange weave, that of duty and sloth, which governed the arcane school of conjuration.

Once the group reconvened, they all attended the penultimate evening of Crocomania XXXVII. Arnold was able to convince Taegon to participate, using his lenses of charming to seal the deal. Tomren used this time to bet on some of the matches, making a small amount of money. Arnold used his Vicious Mockery spell to cause Grok "The Croc" Grokson to lose his match. Although he did it just for fun, he was quickly identified as having disrupted the match and was escorted out of the coliseum and thrown in the stockades. Haseya watched the entire affair with extreme scrutiny, being sure that the animals weren't actually being harmed during the show. And while Taegon did not perform as well as the coliseum predicted, he did an admirable enough job to earn a handshake from legendary croc wrestler Grok "The Croc" Grokson, who also gave 'autographs' for Moras and one for Leyne, should the group see him again on the trip home.

After discussion with Moras about his mission to find the druid Circles and that the Black Circle seemed completely gone, Haseya mentioned that the vet on staff at the menagerie was a Black Circle druid, and it might prove useful to Moras to visit her. Moras agreed and made plans to visit the menagerie in the morning. The group realized that this druid might have information on the Father of Worms and possible rumors or leads that would help them on their mission, and agreed to accompany Moras to see this druid in the morning.

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